322: Matthew Stewart | The Dynamics In Play For “The 9.9 Percent”

What can we think about with regards to the upper end of the economic spectrum in the United States, other than the top 0.1%? The next 9.9 percent fit into a specific category of relevance in this country, competing in a different form than the other brackets, and their scenario comes with its own qualms. In episode 322 of The Armen Show, author and philosopher Matthew Stewart joins us in discussing concepts from his latest book The 9.9 Percent: The New Aristocracy That Is Entrenching Inequality and Warping Our Culture.

Matthew Stewart is an American philosopher and author currently living in the Boston, Massachusetts area. He is the author of Nature’s GodThe Management MythThe Courtier and the HereticMonturiol’s Dream, and The Truth About Everything.

He graduated from Princeton University in 1985 with a concentration in political philosophy and was awarded the Sachs Scholarship from Princeton for study at Oxford University, where he earned a D.Phil. in philosophy in 1988. He worked as a management consultant prior to writing full-time.

Glad to have Matthew on the show. You can check out The 9.9 Percent on Amazon.

321: Representing Joy And Love Through Comedy, Rap, And Philosophy

Hello and welcome to episode 321 of the show, and we are glad to bring one full of messages about joy, being, and philosophy. Understanding the life we live is key. This one is an episode in person, and brings together discussion about creation in music, comedy, and social interaction.

There is something good about going from one tangent to another, such that the connections of thoughts along the way represent more. Joining me on this one is Emanuelle C. Wright, also known by his rap name of Yungcameltoe, and we discussed a variety of topics in person here. We covered items from making of music and comedy, to philosophy like that of the story of Sisyphus, and more related content.

May you continue to enjoy the content, as we make our way through 2021.

320: Moment Specificity, Life Entropy, And Message Simplicity

Here we are at episode 320 of the show, where I discuss various concepts from messages I had written down in snippets. From taking advantage of the specificity of the moment, responding effectively to the shock of life entropy, and keeping messages simple for prolific network spread, this episode covers a variety of material.

The moment is a key element of this episode, because each moment in our time is one that speaks to us in one way or another. Check this one out to hear more about making use of the current moment.

319: Vanessa Bohns | The Extent of Impact In “You Have More Influence Than You Think”

Does our influence go further than we think of? Are people taking cues and guidance from us, when we are not even aware of it? Professor Vanessa Bohns of Cornell University is a social psychologist who has explored this topic in her latest book You Have More Influence Than You Think: How We Underestimate Our Power of Persuasion, and Why It Matters.

Professor Bohns received her PhD in Social Psychology from Columbia University and her AB in Psychology from Brown University. Prior to joining Cornell, she taught at the University of Toronto and the University of Waterloo in Canada.

Her research focuses broadly on social influence and the psychology of compliance and consent. In particular, she examines the extent to which people recognize the influence they have over others in various interpersonal interactions, including when asking for help, suggesting that someone engage in unethical behavior, and making romantic advances.

Links: Book | Faculty Page | Twitter

318: Kat Fairaway | Havaya, Mindfulness, And Discussion Of Stoic Philosopher Quotes

Actress and filmmaker Kat Fairaway returns on episode 318 of The Armen Show, and we discuss havaya, mindfulness, updates, and 9 quotes from the stoic philosophers Epictetus, Seneca, and Marcus Aurelius.

Kat is an actress living in Los Angeles, who recently starred in three feature films released on Amazon and Lifetime, including: Kidnapped by a Classmate opposite Adam Zastrow (The Kaminsky Method & American Horror Story) and Psycho Escort. Her theater experience includes the world debut of Who You See Here working alongside Tony Award winning writer Matt Hoverman, playing opposite Mather Zickel (I Love you, Man & Rachel Getting Married) and a regional run of Assassins (Squeaky Fromme).

Kat’s passion is expanding and elevating human consciousness, which led to her facilitating with havaya, a group wellness company. You can find them at havaya.one and on IG @havaya.one

Here are the 9 quotes that were discussed in the episode:


  • The key is to keep company only with people who uplift you, whose presence calls forth your best.
  • If you want to improve, be content to be thought foolish and stupid.
  • The greater the difficulty the more glory in surmounting it. Skillful pilots gain their reputation from storms and tempests.


  • True happiness is to enjoy the present, without anxious dependence upon the future, not to amuse ourselves with either hopes or fears but to rest satisfied with what we have, which is sufficient, for he that is so, wants nothing.
  • It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare; it is because we do not dare that things are difficult.
  • You act like mortals in all that you fear, and like immortals in all that you desire.

Marcus Aurelius

  • Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking.
  • If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.
  • I have often wondered how it is that every man loves himself more than all the rest of men, but yet sets less value on his own opinion of himself than on the opinion of others.


Kat on IMDb, IG, Amazon Prime Video, and our previous episode

Jim Carrey Interview mentioned

The School of Life by Alain de Botton

Filming location credit: Boutiq Venice

317: Brandy Schillace | Transplanting The Soul In “Mr. Humble And Dr. Butcher”

Welcome to episode 317 of the show with Dr. Brandy Schillace, where we go into the story of surgeon Dr. Robert White and his transplant efforts. We discuss the story represented in her book Mr. Humble and Dr. Butcher: A Monkey’s Head, the Pope’s Neuroscientist, and the Quest to Transplant the Soul.

Dr. Brandy Schillace is a historian of medicine and the critically acclaimed author of Death’s Summers Coat, Clockwork Futures, and most recently Mr. Humble and Dr. Butcher, described by the New York Times as a “macabre delight.” Her books have been reviewed in Science Magazine, the New York Times, the Boston GlobeNew YorkerWashington Post, the Wall Street Journal and more.

Dr. Schillace is host of the Peculiar Book Club, a livestream community of authors and readers, and has appeared on Travel Channel’s Mysteries at the Museum,  NPR’s Here and Now, and FOX’s American Built. She has bylines at Scientific AmericanGlobe and MailHuffPo, SLATE, and Crime Reads. Dr. Schillace is a 2018 winner of the Arthur P. Sloan Science Foundation award, and in addition to her work as an author, is editor-in-chief of BMJ’s Medical Humanities Journal.



Peculiar Book Club

Mr. Humble & Dr. Butcher


316: Nancy Sherman | Understanding Stoic Philosophers Of The Past In “Stoic Wisdom”

What can the lessons of the stoics do for us in 2021? What did these philosophers and thinkers know that could guide us in managing our emotions for a better outcome? Has stoicism become popularized in recent years, and what can we take from this change of pace? Professor Nancy Sherman of Georgetown University joins on episode 316 of the show to discuss these topics and more from her latest book Stoic Wisdom: Ancient Lessons for Modern Resilience.

Nancy Sherman is a Distinguished University Professor and Professor of Philosophy at Georgetown University. She was also the inaugural Distinguished Chair in Ethics at the United States Naval Academy. She is the author of Afterwar: Healing the Moral Wounds of our SoldiersThe Untold War: Inside the Hearts, Minds, and Souls of our SoldiersNew York Times Editors’ pick; Stoic Warriors: The Ancient Philosophy Behind the Military MindMaking a Necessity of Virtue: Aristotle and Kant on VirtueThe Fabric of Character: Aristotle’s Theory of Virtue, and the editor of Critical Essays on the Classics: Aristotle’s Ethics.

She has written over 60 articles in the area of ethics, military ethics, the history of moral philosophy, ancient ethics, the emotions, moral psychology, and psychoanalysis. She has delivered over 60 named or keynote lectures and plenary addresses here and abroad.

Links: Twitter | Stoic Wisdom | Faculty page

315: Nichola Raihani | Cooperation As A Key Element Of Human Evolution In “The Social Instinct”

What causes cooperation when there is potential to exploit? Why is cooperation commonplace in nature, when there is clear benefit from selfish behavior. Examining humans and non-human animals, Professor Nichola Raihani of University College London explores this topic in The Social Instinct: How Cooperation Shaped the World, and joins us on episode 315 of the show.

Dr. Nichola Raihani is a British psychologist who is a Professor of Evolution and Behaviour at University College London. She earned a Bachelor of Arts (Natural Sciences) at Girton College in the University of Cambridge in 2003. She stayed at Cambridge for her graduate studies, where she studied cooperation in pied babblers in the Kalahari Desert.

Her doctoral research was supervised by Tim Clutton-Brock. In 2008 she worked as a postdoctoral research fellow at the Institute of Zoology (Zoological Society of London). In 2011, she moved to University College London, where she studies the evolution of punishment and cooperation.

Links: Twitter | Faculty Page | Research | The Social Instinct

314: Emily Erikson | How Economic Thought Was Shaped By Companies In “Trade And Nation”

What can we learn from 17th century economic discourse? A crucial transformation in economic thinking happened at the time, and analysis of the discussion of the time period is informative regarding a shift from a more moral view to one of company growth. Professor Emily Erikson of Yale University discusses these concepts from her latest book Trade and Nation: How Companies and Politics Reshaped Economic Thought on episode 314.

Emily Erikson is the Joseph C. Fox Academic Director of the Fox International Fellowship and associate professor of sociology and the school of management (by courtesy). She works on the emergence and development of global networks, organizations, and the institutions of capitalism and democracy.

Her work has appeared in the American Journal of SociologyAnnual Review of SociologySociology TheoryThe Journal of Economic History, and Social Science History, among others. She serves on the council for the economic sociology section of the American Sociological Association, the editorial board for Social Science History, the editorial committee for the Relational Sociology Series. She is a founding member of the advisory board for the Journal of Historical Network Research and sits of the executive council of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Senate.

You can check out her faculty page, or see Trade and Nation on Columbia University Press.

313: Daniel Markovits | The Impact Of The Meritocratic System On Society In “The Meritocracy Trap”

What is meritocracy, and how are the dynamics associated with its proliferation affecting equality and culture? Professor Daniel Markovits of Yale Law School joins on episode 313 of the show, and we discuss these concepts from his book The Meritocracy Trap: How America’s Foundational Myth Feeds Inequality, Dismantles the Middle Class, and Devours the Elite.

“Daniel Markovits is Guido Calabresi Professor of Law at Yale Law School and Founding Director of the Center for the Study of Private Law. Markovits works in the philosophical foundations of private law, moral and political philosophy, and behavioral economics. He publishes in a range of disciplines, including in ScienceThe American Economic Review, and The Yale Law Journal.

After earning a B.A. in Mathematics, summa cum laude from Yale University, Markovits received a British Marshall Scholarship to study in England, where he was awarded an M.Sc. in Econometrics and Mathematical Economics from the L.S.E. and a B.Phil. and D.Phil. in Philosophy from the University of Oxford. Markovits then returned to Yale to study law and, after clerking for the Honorable Guido Calabresi, joined the faculty at Yale.”

You can check out The Meritocracy Trap on Amazon, or Professor Markovits’ faculty page.

312: Paige Madison | Examining Human Evolution In The Anthropocene

Fossils take us through a history of evolution with the pieces that are found. Dr. Paige Madison of the University of Copenhagen studies fossils, human evolution through findings, and joins us on episode 312 of the show, coming from the Natural History Museum in Denmark.

From her bio: “Paige is a postdoctoral researcher at the Natural History Museum Denmark, University of Copenhagen, examining human evolution in the Anthropocene. She received her PhD in the history of science, focusing on the history of paleoanthropology, from Arizona State University. Her passions include human evolution and science outreach. “

You can check out her website Fossil History or follow her on Twitter.

311: Damon Centola | Understanding Spread Of Ideas, Movements, And Behaviors In “Change”

Professor Damon Centola of the University of Pennsylvania joins on episode 311 to discuss topics from his book Change: How To Make Big Things Happen. We look to spread ideas and behaviors that resonate, and knowing how to do so is a key piece of the process. The more we know about information and behavioral spread, the less we do that is not necessary.

From his bio, “Damon Centola is Elihu Katz Professor of Communication, Sociology and Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania, where he is Director of the Network Dynamics Group.  Before coming to Penn, he was an Assistant Professor at M.I.T. and a Robert Wood Johnson Fellow at Harvard University.

His research includes social networks, social epidemiology, and web-based experiments on diffusion and cultural evolution.  His work has been published across several disciplines in journals such as Science, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, American Journal of Sociology, and Journal of Statistical Physics.  Popular accounts of Damon’s work have appeared in The New York TimesThe Washington PostThe Wall Street Journal, Wired, TIME, and CNN.”

You can check out Change on Amazon, or take a look at Professor Centola’s faculty page.

310: Roya Hakakian | Perspective Of Immigration In “A Beginner’s Guide To America”

On episode 310, we switch things up and head to the world of poetry and writing on the switch to living in America by author Roya Hakakian. Her book A Beginner’s Guide to America: For the Immigrant and the Curious takes us through what one can expect being in the United States, from the perspective of someone immigrating via Iran. We discuss her current book, as well as the trajectory from her past books.

From her bio, Roya “is an author and Persian poet whose opinion columns, essays and book reviews appear in English language publications like the New York Times, the Daily Beast, Newsweek, the Wall Street Journal and NPR’s All Things Considered. A founding member of the Iran Human Rights Documentation Center, she has collaborated on over a dozen hours of programming for leading journalism units on network television, including CBS 60 Minutes.

Roya is the author of two collections of poetry in Persian, and is listed among the leading new voices in Persian poetry in the Oxford Encyclopedia of the Modern Islamic World. Her poetry has appeared in numerous anthologies around the world, including La Regle Du Jeu, Strange Times My Dear: The Pen Anthology of Contemporary Iranian Literature. She serves on the board of Refugees International.”

You can find her book on Amazon, or visit her website.

309: Lee Cronin | Chemical Evolution, Philosophy, View Of Time, Perspective, And More

Welcome to episode 309 of the show, with our guest being Professor Lee Cronin of The University of Glasgow. This was a special episode returning to in-person material, and we discussed a variety of topics including philosophy, physics, reduction, emergence, chemistry, and time. It was very enjoyable and informative to take part in this discussion.

Professor Cronin went to “the University of York where he completed both a degree and PhD in Chemistry and then on to do post docs in Edinburgh and Germany before becoming a lecturer at the Universities of Birmingham, and then Glasgow where he has been since 2002 working up the ranks to become the Regius Professor of Chemistry in 2013 aged 39.

He has one of the largest multidisciplinary chemistry-based research teams in the world, having raised over $35 M in grants and current income of $15 M. He has given over 300 international talks and has authored over 350 peer reviewed papers with recent work published in Nature, Science, and PNAS. He and his team are trying to make artificial life forms, find alien life, explore the digitization of chemistry, understand how information can be encoded into chemicals and construct chemical computers.”

You can check out his lab profile page, Wikipedia, and research.

308: Carey Gillam | An Agrochemical Lawsuit Detailed In “The Monsanto Papers”

Investigative journalist Carey Gillam joins the show on episode #308, and we discuss her recent book The Monsanto Papers: Deadly Secrets, Corporate Corruption, and One Man’s Search for Justice.

From her bio: “Carey Gillam is an American investigative journalist and author with more than 30 years of experience covering food and agricultural policies and practices, including 17 years as a senior correspondent for Reuters international news service. She has specialty knowledge regarding the rise of biotech crop technology and the associated rise in pervasive pesticide use in our farming and food production system. Gillam has won several industry awards for her work and been recognized as a leading global expert on corruption in the agricultural chemical industry. Her first book Whitewash- The Story of a Weed Killer, Cancer and the Corruption of Science was released in October 2017 and won the coveted Rachel Carson Book Award from the Society of Environmental Journalists as well as two other literary awards.”

The Monsanto Papers is the inside story of Lee Johnson’s landmark lawsuit against Monsanto. For Lee, the case was a race against the clock, with doctors predicting he wouldn’t survive long enough to take the witness stand. For the eclectic band of young, ambitious lawyers representing him, it was a matter of professional pride and personal risk, with millions of dollars and hard-earned reputations on the line. For the public at large, the lawsuit presented a question of corporate accountability. With enough money and influence, could a company endanger its customers, hide evidence, manipulate regulators, and get away with it all—for decades?”

You can find more about Carey on her website, or check out The Monsanto Papers on Amazon.

307: Rebecca Schwarzlose | The Maps Inside Our Mind Detailed In “Brainscapes”

Are there detailed maps of representations of sights, sounds, and action held in our brain? Postdoctoral scholar Rebecca Schwarlose joins us to discuss this topic and more from her latest book Brainscapes: The Warped, Wondrous Maps Written in Your Brain―And How They Guide You.

Rebecca Schwarzlose is a neuroscientist at Washington University in Saint Louis. She holds a PhD in Neuroscience from MIT and has served as chief editor of the scholarly journal Trends in Cognitive Sciences.

Rebecca’s research investigates how minds and brains conceptualize complex natural phenomena and generate a mental inventory of meaningful objects, actions, and social groups. Her doctoral research focused on the neural representation of crucial object categories such as human faces and bodies and the overarching organization of category information in the brain.  Her current research investigates the neural bases for atypical sensory processing and prediction in childhood and their relations to psychopathology.

Brainscapes was supported by a grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Program in Public Understanding of Science and Technology.

306: Caleb Scharf | How Content And Data Has Expanded In “The Ascent Of Information”

Data and information hits at the heart of what is growing over time in the public domain. Dr. Caleb Scharf, Director of Astrobiology at Columbia University , covers this topic from books to bits in his latest book The Ascent Of Information: Books, Bits, Genes, Machines, and Life’s Unending Algorithm. He joins on episode 306 of The Armen Show Podcast with me, your host Armen Shirvanian.

From his bio: “Caleb Scharf works in the fields of exoplanetary science and astrobiology, and writes extensively about science for a popular audience. Exoplanetary science is devoted to the discovery and characterization of planets around other stars, and understanding the formation, histories, and properties of these planets. One ultimate goal of this research is to find planets that could harbor recognizable life, and to detect the presence of that life—an effort that falls under the banner of astrobiology.”

You can find The Ascent of Information on Amazon, or check out Dr. Scharf’s website for more.

305: Annie Murphy Paul | Ways To Enhance Our Thinking In “The Extended Mind”

Author and science writer Annie Murphy Paul joins on episode 305 of the show to discuss her latest book The Extended Mind: The Power of Thinking Outside the Brain. Her book is about tapping into the intelligence that exists outside of the brain, and using the environment and world around us to propel our thinking.

This is a category that has always been important to me because activities and understanding that propels thinking into more creative realms is essential in the making of great material. If we don’t use all tools at our disposal, we are limiting the amount of material we can put out there, which will then inspire other material.

“Annie Murphy Paul is an acclaimed science writer whose work has appeared in the New York TimesScientific American, and The Best American Science Writing, among many other publications. She is the author of OriginsThe Cult of Personality, and now The Extended Mind.”

You can check out Annie’s website or her latest book on Amazon.

304: Jan Eeckhout | The Impact Of Market Power On Workers In “The Profit Paradox”

What impact are the top companies having on the market and workers around the world? Does grabbing control of the market limit the ability of others to rise up just as smoothly? Economics Professor Jan Eeckhout of Pompeu Fabra University in Spain joins us on episode 304 of the show to discuss these topics and more from his book The Profit Paradox: How Thriving Firms Threaten the Future of Work.

From his bio: “Jan Eeckhout is ICREA Research Professor at Universitat Pompeu Fabra,  Barcelona GSE Research Professor, and Professor of Economics at University College London. He has teaching and research interests in Macroeconomics, with a special emphasis on the labor market. He studies unemployment, labor market risk, skill diversity, inequality in cities, and the macroeconomic implications of market power.”

“Professor Eeckhout’s work has been published in the American Economic Review, Econometrica, the Review of Economic Studies, the Journal of Political Economy, and has been supported by several government grants, including funding from the National Science Foundation (US) and the European Research Council (Starting and Advanced Grants), as well as private grants. His work has featured in the media, including outlets such as The Economist, The Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, New York Times, Vox, and Bloomberg. He has advised over 30 PhD students who have placed in academic positions from Yale to Chicago and from Beijing to Canberra, as well as in non-academic positions.”

You can check out Professor Eeckhout’s material on Twitter, on his faculty page, or on his Google Scholar articles page. You can also check out The Profit Paradox on Amazon.

303: Azra Raza, Bill Sullivan & Dan Cable | Chance Meetings

Welcome to a special edition of the show – Episode #303 featuring a panel of three past guests returning on the topic of Chance Meetings. My three guests here are Professor Bill Sullivan of the Indiana University School of Medicine, Dr. Azra Raza of Columbia University, and Professor Dan Cable of London Business School.

The topic of chance meetings was selected because of the value of those serendipitous moments that connect us with someone who branches our life in a certain direction. Before we met them, we were situated in some form, and after we met those key individuals, we were directed in a path that we lived for years and decades.